Anonymiss in DC

{May 28, 2009}   Metro Etiquette (again!)

I was quite pleased to find that someone else outside of the metro police is as annoyed as I am by people on the metro.

In her post, “Courtesy-Minded Metro Stands Up for Riders Who Shouldn’t Have To“, Lena Sun talks about people not giving up seats to those who are elderly, disabled, or even pregnant.  Shocking, right?

Except I live here.

Last week, I got on a crowded red line train to Glenmont, and there were 2 men on each of the 2 front benches at the rear-end of the car. A woman carrying a baby in her arms got on the train, and not ONE of the four looked up. 

Instead, a woman in the second row of seats got up and offered the woman her seat (it was gratefully accepted.).  She then said to another standing woman, loudly enough for the guys to hear: “Notice not one of those men offered?”…to which the other replied “Chivalry is really dead.” The conversation went back and forth for a minute or so, with several other women in the area chiming in with comments like “I guess we shouldn’t be surprised…”

Do you know, throughout the whole thing, not one of those guys flinched?

Now listen, I’m not a fool, and I realize this isn’t the age of chivalry.  Women can’t say we want to be treated equally and then be uber snippy when guys don’t go out of their way to help us.

Then again…news flash for you, guys– we like it, a lot if you do. We notice. We think it’s attractive. And we kind of think you’re a jack@ss if you let a door slam in our face, or, if you, you know, pretend you don’t notice that a woman WITH A BABY needs a place to sit on the metro.  Maybe it’s not fair of us to have these expectations, but guess what? Life isn’t fair. Deal with it. Be a gentleman.

Chivalry aside, if you’re in the FIRST ROW or in one of those clearly marked priority seating areas,  you have to suck it up if someone needs it more than you do. (I’ve done it, in case you are interested.  Even while wearing heels. And I’ve even seen other people do it, too. It can be done, and you can survive.)

In discussions about Metro using “voluntary etiquette police,” the husband of a disabled Metro rider in DC commented: “I wonder if public shame works in Washington, D.C.”

Judging on last week’s experience, I wouldn’t count on it.

lacochran says:

Shame is manipulative. Better to lead by example and not use your example as a club.

Alex says:

very well said.

Q: if you’re a guy, and in a seat, and are passed out snoozing, is it okay to stay sleeping? I mean, if you nudge me, I’ll possibly be coherent enough to move, otherwise, dreamland all the way.

Anonymiss in DC says:

I think you get a pass if you are legitimately asleep and unaware. If you’re just fudging it so you don’t have to move…well…I think you get the idea:)

ng says:

I don’t even think it’s a matter of chivalry… if GUY got on the metro with a little kid who was likely to be thrown from one end of the car to the other each time the train started and stopped, I’d give up my seat for him too. It’s a matter of noticing the human condition and applying a tiny bit of compassion to the situation.

Maybe someone should start taking pictures of them like this guy:

codeman says:

Happens in NY on the PATH all the time. I don’t even bother trying to ever get a seat anymore because I know there are people who need it more. Back when I first rode it I once got up for a pregnant woman who was standing about 3 feet away, and some other guy sat down in my place before she could get to the seat! I was speechless. Fortunately I must have shamed the guy next to me who followed my example and got up for the lady.
I would argue there is a higher % of apathy but also a higher % of kindness in NY.

dindc says:

When I was on crutches – for 22 weeks – no one on the DC metro would get up for me. Not even those able bodied folks sitting in the seats RESERVED FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES. Hi, Crutches = Disability. You know why? It’s really hard to hold on to your crutches/cane/seeing eye dog/baby and the pole at the same time.

And I totally agree that folks in NY were great about helping. They didn’t always get up, but they did so more than here and were always offering to help carry stuff – people would pull over in their cars in Brooklyn and offer to give me a ride. People here would push past me to get on the metro. It taught me the thing I always suspected: DC is the rudest city in America. Kudos to you and the Post for trying to shame us for it.

I think a little shame is a good thing. When I was a kid we were to ashamed to go as far as kids and some grown men go with their disrespect towards women. I know a woman who walked past a little boy on the street and he slapped her butt. I think this starts with a simple lack of respect that when not checked by other men leads to total disregard for women.Good post.

Jake says:

You turned a good act into self-righteous snarkiness and passive aggressive behavior. Bravo.

[…] there aren’t any. Oh no my friend. Anonymiss in DC chronicles a particularly maddening one here. Moving Momentarily has a story that had me cringing. Lena Sun of the Washington Post has a whole […]

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